AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update V: Disconcerting Dysfunction – 4 Government Agencies Each Going Own Way Provide Lack of Closure to Victims

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After the ICE press conference in October, it appeared that the US Government was winding down its investigation of AZTech, Integra, Andwill and Wireclass.  It appeared that those associated with The Four companies would be getting resolution one way or another. That conclusion, it turns out, was premature. As you know, there are four US government agencies primarily involved in the administration and enforcement of US immigration laws. They are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State through its local embassies and consulates.  ICE are the immigration police; it also is responsible for the administration of the SEVIS and OPT programs.  CBP includes the airport and port-of-entry inspectors who verify the admissibility of individuals to the United States. USCIS adjudicates immigration benefits, including H-1B petitions, I-765 employment authorization applications, changes/extensions of status, and green card applications….

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update III

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We continue to receive a surge of questions from those who have been adversely impacted by the situation surrounding AZTech, Integra, Andwill, Wireclass, and other questionable OPT-related companies. Interestingly, we have also been contacted by those who have not felt any adverse consequences yet nor are aware of any impact, but potentially may have some exposure because of their OPT past.  What should they do?  Reaching out to a lawyer is a good start. Without stating the obvious, these individuals may already have been impacted; they just don’t know it yet.  In the eyes of the government, their mere association with a suspect OPT organization opens the door for adverse action: visa revocation; denial of a future USCIS H-1B or green card petition; refusal of an employment authorization or change of status or adjustment of status application; the opening of removal proceedings in the US; expedited removal and/or the imposition…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass and Andwill Update

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Thank you for your phone calls. After speaking with so many of you, it has become obvious that those who were associated with AZTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass and Andwill did so with legitimate intentions and the goal of full compliance with the OPT requirements.  While the common thread binding most of you is a visa revocation, there are several categories of individuals who have been impacted, including: 1)      those in the US who are beneficiaries of a pending H-1B petition and USCIS has issued a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) or Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID”) related to their prior OPT experience and/or visa revocation; 2)      those in the US who are applying for STEM OPT extensions and USCIS has issued a RFE or NOID related to their prior OPT experience and/or visa revocation; 3)      those who attempted to enter the US with a visa and Customs and Border Protection…

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COVID-19, Extensions of Status, and Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

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With the raging of the pandemic, cancelled flights, and travel restrictions, thousands of visitors have been stranded in the United States.  While some legal relief has been provided for delayed departures for those who entered without visas under the Visa Waiver Program, very little has been discussed about those who entered the US with visas and have been unable to leave within the allotted time frame. As a reminder, holders of B-1 and B-2 visas are usually granted 6 months of authorized stay when they arrive in the US.  If a person overstays this authorized time frame, the visa becomes void under Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. What this means is that even if the visa itself has validity time remaining, it nevertheless becomes null and cannot be used. For example, if in June 2019 a B visa was issued for 10 years through June 2029, and…

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Visa Revocations and OPT

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The consequences of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation of the US companies Findream, Sinocontech, AzTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass, and Aandwill are now becoming evident. Thousands of students and young professionals, primarily Chinese and Indian, have had their visas revoked because of their past association with these companies.  Worse, it appears that the US Government has presumed that these individuals were aware of the fraudulent nature of the offers of training to comply with the Optional Practical Training program requirements and is entering decisions to permanently bar them from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“6C”). For many of these individuals, it does not have to be this way. A US government official can only make this determination based on an individualized review. Everyone’s circumstances were different. What was his or her specific intent at the time of accepting the training offer? Was…

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A Visa Applicant’s Bill of Rights – What the Department of State and Your Local US Embassy/Consulate Often Do Not Want You to Know

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For visa applicants, the cards seem to be stacked against you.  Among the hurdles a visa applicant must face: The law places the burden on the visa applicant to prove eligibility for the visa and that he or she is not inadmissible to the United States. There are inadequate consular resources; at busy posts, consular officers can only allot a few minutes to a visa adjudication. There is no formal administrative appeals process of a visa denial (no Administrative Appeals Office, Board of Immigration Appeals, Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals). With limited exception, there is no judicial review of visa decisions because of the  doctrine of consular reviewability. There is limited public accountability: no Department of State (DOS) Visa Ombudsman, no formal Complaint Procedure, and no formal recusal process. Section 428 of the Homeland Security Act grants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a vital role in the visa…

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Visa Myth #975 – “But They Gave Me 6 Months to Stay in the US!”

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At least a couple of times a month I get a similar, frantic phone call. “I just applied for a new visa, but it was denied. The consul didn’t like the fact that I spent 5 months in the US on my last trip.  I told him that the airport inspector allowed me to stay for 6 months. I didn’t do anything wrong!”  Or “My visa has been revoked. But I didn’t do anything wrong.  When I arrived in the US, they gave me 6 months to stay, so I did. I didn’t violate any laws, so why are they revoking my visa?!?” The revocation is done by either the consul or the airport inspector the next time the visa holder arrives in the US. There are many “red flags” here considered by the consul or airport inspector: The visa holder must remember that when he applies for a visa…

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FAQ on New Birth Tourism Rules

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The Trump Administration announced new rules regarding birth tourism, which took effect on January 24, 2020.  Already, misinformation has cropped up. So to provide some clarity, the below FAQ is provided: Whom do the new rules affect? They only affect applicants for B visitor visas; they do not impact current holders of visas nor citizens of  Visa Waiver Program countries who can enter the US without a visa. May current holders of visas and those who hold passports from Visa Waiver Program countries enter the United States to give birth? The Department of Homeland Security, which include Customs and Border Protection inspectors at ports-of-entry, has not announced any new policies or reinterpretations of allowing entry for those who enter to give birth.  In the past inspectors permitted women to enter the US to give birth as long as they could show the ability to cover the cost of birth.  However,…

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Challenging Visa Denials and Revocations after an Interpol Red Notice or a Kangaroo Court Conviction

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Interpol conjures up images of a worldwide police tracking down “bad guys” on the run from home country authorities.  But Interpol is not a law enforcement agency: it does not issue warrants and does not have the authority to make arrests.  While the overwhelming majority of Interpol’s information-sharing capacity is dedicated to tracking down true “bad guys”, many home country governments abuse it. They manipulate Interpol into doing their dirty work, making bogus allegations to locate dissidents, political activists, and whistleblowers. As a result, Interpol issues Red Notices based on bare allegations made by a government – for example, fraud – not evidence, with a view to extraditing that person back to that country. Yet consular, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials erroneously use the Red Notice as shorthand to deny visas, detain individuals at the border, and arrest them inside the United States. It is…

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The Value of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

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One critical tool in challenging errant visa decisions of consular officers is through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  While the FOIA process with the Department of State is extremely limited in visa cases, sometimes consular officers rely on inaccurate information contained in US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) files or improperly make visa decisions based on materials contained in those files. In such cases, FOIA requests can be extremely helpful. Lawyers can assist in three aspects of Freedom of Information Act requests: 1) properly formulating and lodging requests; 2) filing lawsuits when FOIA processing is delayed; and 3) assisting in appeals of government responses to FOIA requests.  The proper formulation of a request can mean the difference between a process that can take 3 months or 12 or more…

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Zombies and Petition Revocations

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What do zombies and petition revocations have in common?  Just when you thought they have died a permanent death – never to be seen again or heard from again – they come back to life, sometimes with devastating consequences. This came to mind when a former client, Alex, contacted me about his Diversity Visa case.  He won the Green Card Lottery, but when he went to the Embassy for his interview, he was told that his application would be put on hold until questions about his 1998 L-1 petition were resolved.  I  had represented him back in 1998, after the Embassy sent his L-1 petition back to INS because of a “fraudulent office address” and his inability to describe his subordinates at his L-1 visa interview.  We were able to resolve the fraudulent office address accusation at that time – the Embassy’s investigator had gone to the wrong (!) address…

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Visa Revocation – Not Just Related to Criminal Activity

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Most people understand that if they are arrested, it is possible that their visas will be revoked.  DUIs, drug possession, domestic violence, shoplifting – these are just some of the situations in which individuals with valid visas have their visas revoked.  But what is less known – and understood – is that the Department of State has the ability to revoke visas for any reason in which eligibility is questioned.  In other words, the inquiry into whether an individual qualifies for a visa does not stop at the time of issuance; it is a process that can be – and often is – reactivated at any time after issuance.  In fact, we are seeing more revocations for non-criminal issues than criminal problems. So what leads to this re-examination of an individual’s eligibility? The trigger points for such a “verification reactivation” are numerous.  For example, consular officers conduct validation studies, checking…

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Top 12 Reasons for Visa Revocation

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Over the past couple of years, we have seen a dramatic surge in the number of visa revocations. Every day our office is contacted by individuals who have had the misfortune of having their visas revoked, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to catalog the most prolific reasons for visa revocations. This blog is not about the Trump Travel Ban and the more than 100,000 visas revoked under it.  It also is not about the revocation of visas at US airports upon arrival, nor consular recommendations to revoke USCIS approvals of employment petitions.  Rather, it is about the tens of thousands of visa revocations initiated by the Department of State and consular officers around the world every year.  This article will list the 12 most “popular” reasons for visa revocations. These visa revocations are triggered by new material information which crops up after the original issuance, calling…

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